But we'll end the niceties here. He does fine enough when writing about New York, Boston and traditional baseball powerhouses -- maybe because he lives in New York and used to work at Newsday -- but ask him to say a few things about those west of Pennsylvania and God forbid you find yourself in the path of vomit. I don't want this to sound like a recycled "East coast bias" complaint, but read this craptastic column and judge for yourself:
Making the grades: How did each team do this winter?; news and notes
25. Twins. Don't blame the front office. This is all on tightwad multibillionaire owner Carl Pohlad, who squeezed $400 million out of the taxpayers of Hennepin County, then somehow couldn't find anything close to market value for either Santana or Hunter. New GM Bill Smith did his best to replace Hunter by landing Delmon Young for the offense and speedy, strong-armed Carlos Gomez for center. It's hard to blame him for expecting Hank Steinbrenner to give up the store for Santana, but in retrospect, maybe Smith should have jumped on that Phil Hughes/Melky Cabrera/Jeff Marquez offer. D
26. Giants. The team that couldn't hit last year has lost Bonds and replaced him with Aaron Rowand, who's going to defend well at AT&T Park but miss Citizens Bank as a hitter. D
27. Royals. I really like GM Dayton Moore. And last year, I was the one who whiffed on Gil Meche, not Moore. And maybe I will go 0-for-2 when I say I wouldn't have given Jose Guillen $36, much less $36 million. D
The only teams to be graded worse than the Royals were the Pirates, Marlins and Astros, but what's really amazing about this list -- and I'll use bullet points to illustrate -- is:
- The Twins got pure crap for the best pitcher in the world, when they could've had Phil Hughes or Jacoby Ellsbury or Jon Lester, and yet they received the same grade as the Royals. Hell, the Orioles got a much better deal for Erik Bedard, but we have Heyman writing, Don't blame the front office. Really? Because I was under the impression the "front office" is the entity in charge of things like "trades" and "talent evaluation" in order to make sure said trades are in the team's best interest. But I'm not the baseball expert here.
- Meanwhile, a front office that's actually trying to improve its team -- by signing players who are better than those they're replacing and filling holes and needs, etc., you know, the job description -- gets criticized for... well, I'm not really sure. I think Heyman's logic works thusly:
- I, exalted baseball columnist and resident expert, think little of Jose Guillen.
- The Royals signed Jose Guillen.
- The Royals' front office is up to its old tomfoolery.
Why a national baseball columnist would tie an entire front office to the signing of one player in an offseason where that same front office made numerous acquisitions -- including of a manager who everyone seems to like -- and, above all else, expressed a commitment to its fans and all of baseball that they're ready to be competitve -- read any of the "Royals make splash at Winter Meetings" stories out there, or just this one, Mr. Heyman, from your colleague at SI.com -- makes no sense to me. Again, I'm not the baseball expert here, just one of those despicable "stathounds," perhaps.
- Gil Meche. Despite the apology*, don't think any of us have forgotten Heyman wrote Meche "may be French for 'money flushed down a toilet.'" On the bright side, at least he has a template for the Guillen apology column.
- No mention of Yasuhiko Yabuta or Ron Mahay or Alberto Callaspo or even the smaller acquisitions of Brian Lawrence and Brett Tomko and the attention-grabbing deal with Hideo Nomo (all part of the plan to open up the Japanese pipeline). Nope... asking way too much from Mr. National Baseball Columnist.
And you know what: I understand. I understand he has a word count. I understand most of his readers aren't interested in 20-point breakdowns of every team. I understand that probably not a single non-Royals fan in the world gave a second thought to that D grade. But you know what: screw the line of thinking that throwaway lines, especially of the insulting variety, are acceptable. Because, like Carver said in this season of The Wire, "It matters." It matters to me. It matters to the 2 million people in the Kansas City Metro area and the 3 million Dayton Moore wants to draw to the K and the bloggers and the handful who visit this site and the casual fans who might stumble unto SI.com and see the Royals low on the list and wonder, "Really? Gee, and I thought they were improving." Because they are, and misrepresentations of reality really get on my nerves. No matter what the Royals front office does -- and they're trying, hard -- their efforts will always get undermined by national columnists like Heyman who are too lazy or apathetic to care about that small team in the Midwest.
But then again, that's to be expected. I understand this, too: in sports, it's winning that changes attitudes and opinions. I suppose I feel secure -- a little smug, even -- in knowing that so-called experts across the nation will be eating their words in a couple years.
- The Giants ahead of the Royals? Really? I'll just point you here.
I don't want to belabor the point, so I'm going to stop before I start using words like crotchety (or traveshamockery), clown (among other things), shitpile and dufus or dumbass...
* Quoting from that apology column:
"But mostly, I have to give Moore credit for picking exactly the right guy on which to spend that $55 million. Like most baseball followers, I didn't know too much about Meche. Since he played in Seattle, I rarely saw him play, so I relied on his mediocre statistics and word of mouth that said Meche was your classic underachiever."Too bad most baseball followers don't have a national column about baseball. That has to be one of the strangest -- cockiest? -- admissions ever, right?